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Chrysler Fifth Avenue & Chrysler M-body History

1976 Plymouth Volare
The Chrysler M-body series of cars were based on the Plymouth Volare. Most of the machanical parts and body parts are the same.

In 1977 Chrysler introduced the mid-size M-body LeBaron. It was 3,500 pounds in weight and had a wheelbase of 112.7" and came in both 2 and 4 door models with a regular version or an upscale version known as the Medallion. To go along with this car, Dodge introduced the Diplomat that came in a sedan, coupe or wagon. The coupe came in a 108.7" wheelbase. Also in 1977 Plymouth introduced the Caravelle which was sold in Canada only.

For 1978 the LeBaron gained the Town & Country wagon.
The Chrysler Fifth Avenue made it's first appearance in 1979 as an optional package for the New Yorker R-body. The 5th Ave Edition costed $1,500 extra and came with cream over beige as the exterior colour and a champagne coloured interior. The LeBaron also gained a new style called the "Salon".
1979 Plymouth Caravelle1979 Chrysler New Yorker 5th Ave
When 1980 came along the LeBaron and it's Siblings got a facelift with a blocker grille, more sharply creased fenders and a more squared off roof-line, the same design we all know from the 5th Ave. The LeBaron coupe also got a smaller wheelbase this year aswell. Also available in 1980 was a fully loaded LeBaron 5th Avenue edition which had styling something like the New Yorker's 5th Ave. The New Yorker 5th Ave was avaliable also this year, but only 3,608 carried the name and out of them only 386 had the special 5th Ave package which included a Landau roof. The colouring of the 5th Ave's were the same as the '79 ones.

1981 was the last year of the M-body wagon and the coupes. It was also the last year the LeBaron was offered as a RWD car. This year, only 3,748 5th Aves were produced and only 347 were the Fifth Ave special edition. This year the 5th Ave came in a choice of 3 two-tone colours, while the special edition only came in Nightwatch Blue like the one pictured below.

1981 Chrysler New Yorker 5th Ave special edition
In 1982 Chrysler downsized the New Yorker to the M-body platform and used the LeBaron's 5th Avenue edition on it. Also in 1982 the R-body Plymouth Gran Fury was dropped and this made room for a downsized Gran Fury that resembeled the Diplomat and was also built on the M-body frame It came only in a "Salon" body style.The Caravelle was still the only Plymouth M-body being sold in Canada. The Diplomat had all it's models chopped down to two the Salon and the Medallion.

When 1983 came along, the New Yorker name followed the LeBaron and became a FWD car. The RWD Chrysler became the New Yorker 5th Avenue Edition but kept the same body. 1983 was also the last year m-bodies were made in the Windsor, Ontario Chrysler plant. The plant was needed for designing and producing the Chrysler line of mini-vans, which are still made there today.

In 1984 the RWD Chrysler dropped the New Yorker name and was known only as the 5th Avenue. It kept this name until the RWD M-bodies were dropped in 1989. Also the 5th Ave got a new steering wheel which was the same shape the older one. but with a wider wheel and horn buttons. The previous one also had a wooden circle in the middle of the round part, which was lost. Another interior change that happened this year was the optional "Chromometer" clock in the glovebox was dropped along with the brush chrome strip that went across that area. This was also the first year that the M-bodies were only available with one engine, the 5.2L V8. This year the Diplomat Medallion became the SE.

1985 was the first year that Dodge had the 600, which was basically a K-car with an extended wheel-base. The Plymouth version was named the Caravelle, so the RWD Caravelle was renamed the "Caravelle Salon".
New for this model year was an optional two-tone exterior which came with the regular colours on the sides and landau roof, but the hood and roof would be painted silver. While most 5th's had black turn indicator levers on the steering column, this model would have one colormatched with the rest of the interior, something that was lost after the 1984 model year.

1987 Fifth Avenue

When 1986 started, so did the high mounted brake lights in back windows. The 5th Ave got one which was mounted on a post to clear the high edge of the back window. The part was also shared by GM which used it in the back of their FWD Cadillacs from 86 to 88 because they had a similar rear window style. The light in the Chryslers all have GM part numbers.
The two-tone models for this year got a new style landau roof on the back which comes down further on the rear fenders. These models also lost their pinstriping past the back door and on the trunk lid.

In 1988 the 5th Avenue's landau roof got longer around the sides and now went down to the door panels. Most of the 5th Ave's dropped the nameplate on the back door and got a wreath with a pentastar in the middle of it instead. This year the 5th Avenue lost some minor details which made the interior stand out in the previous model years. They include the loss of the shaggy carpeting and also the chrome headlight switch and chrome climate control system, aswell as the chrome borders around the dash gauges and air vents. However it did gain some changes which include power outside mirrors, restyled door panels, seat trim, and optional overhead console. 1988 was also the first year that the Canadian models came with the feedback carburetor system, pre-catalytic converters and the belt-driven air pump under the hood. Also in 1988 the Diplomat came with a regular edition aswell as the SE and Salon. This year was also a first for driver side air bags in the 5th Ave and it's RWD siblings making them one of the only cars that offered an air bag and a tilt steering wheel. The ones which came with the air bag also came with a pad made with the same material as the dashboard front to protect the driver's knees in an accident.

1988 Chrysler Fifth AvenueAn '88 5th Ave. If you look closely at the hood, you can see that someone has added the chrome turn indicators on the fender tops, a feature associated with the 1970's m-bodies only.

The M-bodies retired after 12 years on the market at the end of 1989. Also for this year driver side air bags became standard equipment in them. The Diplomat, Gran Fury and Caravelle name haven't come back yet, but the 5th Ave name was kept and used on a New Yorker styled car again in 1990's. This one came with an Imperial edition, but only a quarter of the cars sold came with it.

In 1990 the Diplomat, Caravelle and Gran Fury names disappeared, but the Fifth Avenue lived on. The 5th Avenue would become an option package on the New Yorker once again. After a few years like this, it became it's own car and came with trim packages such as "Imperial" and "Mark Cross" Editions. Those two packages included features such as trunk pulldown motors which would pull the trunk lid closed after it was pushed down an inch by hand. The 90's Fifth Avenue's kept their traditional boxy front ends and landau roofs until they were re-designed around 1994. The new model would become the New Yorker and later the LHS.

If you have information or corrections for this page, or if you have any information about the 90's models, please send it to me at

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